Meet the ringmasters

The Difficult Conversations

Not every issue is highly charged and political. During my recent session of Meet the Ringmasters, an invitation-only gathering of defense executives in San Diego, CA, I facilitated a discussion about the impact of front-page news on our respective businesses. I observed a certain level of discomfort among participants when it came to interpreting and articulating a direct connection between world events to business outcomes.

Highlighted Issues:

Some of the issues that came up included ongoing conflict in Israel and Gaza, China-Taiwan, China’s impact on supply chains, the economy, stolen IP, Russia-Ukraine, 2024 elections, Artificial Intelligence, and congressional dynamics.

Each issue is prominent, making headlines in virtually all news outlets.

Navigating Open Conversations:

When I interact one-on-one with clients and colleagues, we can generally have an open conversation about what’s unfolding and how it may affect business. Given that my work revolves around our nation’s national security, I tend not to take ideological positions in discussions like this. I must be able to communicate effectively along the entire political spectrum.

Concerns about Human Resources, triggers, and polite social company can interfere with what should be professional executive dialogue specific to linkages of world events to our business. Too many hold themselves back for fear of judgment by others, or worse, a lack of understanding of the issues.

Over this past weekend, several news outlets reported on the uptick in the performance of “arms dealers,” a broad and charged reference to defense companies, as it relates to ongoing military aid provided by the United States to countries with whom we share democratic values.

Leadership Articulation:

Regardless of one’s political perspective on any of the issues above, leaders of defense companies of all sizes must be able to articulate how their company fits into the larger picture. World news affects our customers, our supply chains, our revenue models, and our employees’ futures.

Hold the mirror to yourself on this. Only you know what makes you uncomfortable when having the difficult conversations. To paraphrase Shakespeare, “Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown.” There are more modern interpretations of the concept, but don’t shy away from your leadership role to communicate across a spectrum of relevant issues with your teams, employees, and colleagues.

For a copy of my book, Pitching the Big Top: How to Master the 3-Ring® Circus of Federal Sales, and more information on federal sales, visit Capitol Integration.

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